Coming from a strict Catholic family I was repeatedly lectured on the importance of hard work and how perseverance was directly proportional to success. I followed this philosophy throughout grade school, achieving various honors and accolades all the while receiving the quiet praise from my parents that I always yearned to hear. As I matured I began to find less meaning in the awards that I received and they no longer brought me the happiness that they did when I was a young child.
Foxcroft Academy has always had a requirement for 36 hours of community service–6 freshman year, 8 sophomore year, 10 junior year, and 12 senior year. Entering Foxcroft, I honestly had accumulated very little community service hours my entire life, and those that I had done were only a distant memory. I, like many other freshman, viewed this requirement with disdain. The work was drudgery, with no end game, no apparent success gained from hours of tedious labor, and I, being the sophomoric kid that I was, saw a flaw and resolved that I would trick the system. All of one’s community service hours may be earned in their senior year, so I decided that I would wait until then to then to complete the requirement, doing over a day’s work of service in a very short period of time.
Time passed and as I began my college search the summer of my junior year, I felt as though I were making a blind decision; as if I were choosing a grain of rice from a magnanimous bowl containing thousands of different grains, all vastly different in their own way, an easy discernment to make for a student that knew exactly what he/she wanted, but to me they all looked the same. I sought advice from everyone around me, asking them where I should go and what I should do; most of the answers I received succeeded in confusing me more, yet I remember vividly my mom’s suggestion, “you should go to the college that makes you happy,” a very simple and general statement that has probably been said thousands of times by thousands of different helpful moms, but to me it was revolutionary. At first I brushed off her words, passing them off like I did with all the other advice, but as I stressed more and more, they kept coming back into my head: “Wherever makes me happy.” Finally I decided to follow her advice and search for what gave me meaning and happiness in my life; immediately I was stuck–I couldn’t think of anything that I could bring with me to college that gave me meaning and happiness, so I had no way of knowing which college would make me happy.
I began soul searching for what brought happiness to my life during the fall of my senior year as I stumbled upon a Key Club meeting and decided to listen in. I found myself enticed by the various community service hours that Mr. Rolleston (the lead advisor) talked of attaining by being in the club. I flippantly decided to join Key Club, not for the purpose of happiness or self-improvement, but for the purpose of fulfilling my empty community service requirement of 36 hours.
My first service project was the Pine Tree Hospice Day of Remembrance Celebration, in which grieving citizens of the town who had recently lost a loved one were encouraged to celebrate the happiness of their loved ones passed lives. I entered the building very skeptically, not knowing if this was the real thing or not, but after a few minutes inside I quickly realized that service was very different than anything I had ever experienced before. Seeing the massive effect our service had on these families in need truly brought joy and happiness to my own life. I vowed to participate in as many projects I could for the rest of the year and succeeded in amassing more than 80 community service hours.
The joy I felt by helping the community and directly bringing joy to others was boundless. It became one of the most major factors in my college decision because I knew I would be happy in whatever school offered a good education and many service opportunities. My final decision brought me to Bronx New York at Fordham University, which is infamously referred to as the “oasis” in a rather scary borough. I chose Fordham not only for its education quality, but for its commitment to service in the community. I see many opportunities for improvement in the Bronx, and I will be supported by Fordham’s staff that is committed to community involvement, much like Foxcroft Academy’s. Service was my guiding factor in college applications and will continue to be in my future. I look back to the summer of my junior year and imagine if I had not become involved in Key Club and found my happiness; I fear that I may have been looking at my decision as blindly picking a grain of rice once again.
I happened to join the Foxcroft Academy Key club on one of, if not their overall best years in club history. In early April members from Key Club journeyed to Springfield Massachusetts to participate in the 65th Annual New England District Education Leadership & Service Conference. Foxcroft began going to the District Convention a few years ago, and our club advisor will tell you over and over how the first year we attended we did not receive any honors or awards at the convention, and he resolved to change that in the proceeding years and be recognized nationally for our accomplishments. Last year FA received the early bird patch for dues being paid on time and another honor for raising large amounts of money (more than 400 dollars) for the Eliminate Project to combat Neonatal Tetanus. We also received these awards this year (as expected), but in addition to those accolades we earned two awards that we have never received before in Foxcroft history. Our goal this year was to be awarded the Distinguished Key Club Award, which encompasses two parts; the first part of the award is based on Key Club administration, membership, leadership development, and Kiwanis-Family development while Part 2 is evaluated on club service, which includes service projects, service hours, and service fundraising. As expected, the FA Key Club was awarded this honor for their accomplishments during the year. Unexpectedly, though, we also were recognized for achieving first place in the Gold Devision of Key Club Membership (61-80 members), a feat that only a few clubs accomplish across the country. This award was to recognize our large impact on the community and school over the 2013-14 service year. Throughout the year, our club completed more than 50 service projects, averaged 48 hours per member in service, and raised more than $9000 ($131 per member). All of our hard work contributed to receiving First Place for Yearly Achievement Award in the Gold Division.
These accomplishments are truly amazing for a school our size; to have almost one fourth of our student enrollment participate in Key Club is an accomplishment in itself, but the work we do for the community reaches far beyond any number that we can generate or award we receive. Key Club changes lives. It changed mine, and I know I’m not alone.